Amplification of unscheduled DNA synthesis signal enables fluorescence-based single cell quantification of transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 May 19;45(9):e68. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw1360.


Nucleotide excision repair (NER) comprises two damage recognition pathways: global genome NER (GG-NER) and transcription-coupled NER (TC-NER), which remove a wide variety of helix-distorting lesions including UV-induced damage. During NER, a short stretch of single-stranded DNA containing damage is excised and the resulting gap is filled by DNA synthesis in a process called unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS). UDS is measured by quantifying the incorporation of nucleotide analogues into repair patches to provide a measure of NER activity. However, this assay is unable to quantitatively determine TC-NER activity due to the low contribution of TC-NER to the overall NER activity. Therefore, we developed a user-friendly, fluorescence-based single-cell assay to measure TC-NER activity. We combined the UDS assay with tyramide-based signal amplification to greatly increase the UDS signal, thereby allowing UDS to be quantified at low UV doses, as well as DNA-repair synthesis of other excision-based repair mechanisms such as base excision repair and mismatch repair. Importantly, we demonstrated that the amplified UDS is sufficiently sensitive to quantify TC-NER-derived repair synthesis in GG-NER-deficient cells. This assay is important as a diagnostic tool for NER-related disorders and as a research tool for obtaining new insights into the mechanism and regulation of excision repair.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA Replication
  • Fluorescence
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Tyramine / chemistry


  • Tyramine